Los Angeles Angels

The Angels graduated two key players last season in Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh.  While that’s always a good thing, the Angels system took a hit.  Yes, they have Reid Detmers who I like a lot, but after that, there’s a lot of high-risk players with significant flaws.  While you can say that about most systems, it seems more acuate with the Angels.  Sam Bachman has a great arm but has significant reliever risk.  Jordyn Adams is one of the best athletes you’ll find in any system, but can he hit?  Jeremiah Jackson can hit home runs in bunches but also strikes out a third of the time.  Well, you get the point.

Two players do stand out as “interesting”. Michael Stefanic and Brendon Davis.  Both had great seasons and both have become legitimate prospects.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Reid Detmers
  • Biggest Mover: Michael Stefanic
  • Emerging Prospect: Jorge Ruiz

1. Reid Detmers (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: Solid stuff with plus control points to at least a number three starter

Reid Detmers had quite a season.  He started the season in Double-A and put up some of the best numbers in the minor leagues.  In 12 starts, he struck out over 16 per nine, walked 3 per nine, and posted a 3.50 ERA.  He then got promoted to Triple-A where he pitched even better for two games and then got the call to the Major Leagues where he finished the season.  He didn’t shove it in the Major Leagues, not even close, but he also did not look lost.  Yeah, his ERA was ugly, but he kept his exit velocity against at 89 MPH, and as a 22-year-old rookie, that’s pretty good.  His stuff is solid with a fastball that sits 92 to 93 MPH with a plus curveball and change-up.  It all plays up because he’s able to throw strikes.  Once he gets acclimated, I think that will happen in the Majors as well.  I don’t see an Ace, but a strong number three, low-end number two starter is possible.

2. Sam Bachman (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: 80-grade fastball with at least a 70-grade slider.  However, he lacks a third pitch and with his size and delivery, he’s more likely a reliever than a starter

The Angels drafted Sam Bachman in the first round last June (pick #9).  He was reportedly up to 102 MPH in his junior year of college with a wipeout slider.  Consequently, he was somewhat unhittable.  In 12 starts, he posted a 1.81 ERA striking out 14 per nine and walking 2.6 per nine.  He produced similar results in his first five starts in High-A.  Anybody who throws that hard with a silly wipeout slider can be impactful.  But, there are some warning signs.  First, he’s 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds.  He gets a lot of drive from his legs but based on his size, he could homer-prone.  Second, he shows no signs of a feel for a change-up.  Without a third pitch, it’s hard to project him as a starter.  Finally, his delivery has a lot of effort and violence and is likely the reason that he’s already had some injury scares.  You add it all up and it’s a high-risk, high reward profile and one that likely will lead to a bullpen role.

3. Michael Stefanic (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Terrific season in the upper minors was encouraging.  If the power he showed continues, full-time regular at-bats are possible

Michael Stefanic had a terrific season in 2021.  Across Double and Triple-A, he was a hitting machine, batting .324 with a .414 OBP.  He rarely struck out and posted excellent walk numbers.  He also added loft to his swing and started to show power slugging .491 with 15 home runs.  There’s not a ton of speed in the profile but the bottom line is he can hit and that should get him playing time in the big leagues.  I’m not convinced yet that the power is real, but if he could hit 12 to 15 home runs annually with a handful of stolen bases hitting with a high average and OBP, fantasy owners would gladly take that at second base or their middle infielder roster spot.

4. Jordyn Adams (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 OF with extreme risk (contact)
  • Tools Summary: Impressive tools but struck out 38% of the time in High-A

With both Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh now in the Major Leagues, Jordyn Adams is the last of the three high upside outfielders that the Angels we hoping would develop into Major Leaguers.  He has the loudest tools of the three with crazy bat speed and athleticism, but he’s also got the rawest hit tool.  To demonstrate, he struck out 38% of the time last season in High-A.  That clearly won’t play and is something he must work on.  The swing does get long, but the real problem is he chases too many pitches out of the zone.  If he makes it, he could be a star, but he has a long way to go.

5. Jeremiah Jackson (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B if he can hit enough
  • Tools Summary: Power-speed combination but strikes out a third of the time

In Jeremiah Jackson’s first extensive minor league exposure in 2019, he surprised the industry by slugging .605 and hitting 23 home runs.  He also struck out 33% of the time.  I was curious what his follow-up would be.  And guess what?  It was pretty much the same thing.  In 45 games in Low-A (he spent time on the IL with quad strain), he slugged .527 with 8 home runs and struck out 33% of the time.  So that’s two years of a high-leveraged swing to hit home runs, but with high strikeouts.  He does have good speed and also stole 11 bags.  Fortunately, he did walk at a 12% clip which gives hope that maybe he can salvage his on-base skills by getting on base via the walk.  I struggle with players with this profile as I’m not sure he’s going to hit enough to get to his power and speed.  But, there’s no question that the power-speed combination could be impactful, particularly at second base.

6. Kyren Paris (2B)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: 70-grade speed who could be an OBP-machine if he can cut down his strikeouts

Kyren Paris finally got on the field for an extended look after only playing in three games in 2019 and missing the 2020 season.  The rust was evident as he struck out 30% of the time in Low-A.  While history does not look favorably upon players who strike out 30% in Low-A, there are exceptions and I believe Paris might be one.  His swing works and he doesn’t overly chase pitches out of the zone.  With more experience, I think the strikeouts reduce.  Plus, he walked nearly 20% of the time.  If you’re a fantasy player, the payoff is his speed, and that it will likely come from second base.  He’s a 70 runner and is adept at stealing bases.  He’s more of a doubles hitter but I think he will add strength and loft overtime to hit high single-digit home runs annually. 

7. David Calabrese (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF but needs to get stronger
  • Tools Summary: 70-grade runner but needs to get stronger

Calabrese was the Angels’ first-round pick in 2020 and finally got onto the field last season.  It didn’t go well as he struggled to make contact (33% K/9 rate) but he was one of the youngest players in the league and didn’t turn 19 until September.  His carrying tool is his double-plus speed and while he needs to make better contact, more importantly, he needs to get stronger.  The two are related and once he adds strength, he’ll be able to catch up to velocity better, his exit velocity will increase and more balls will fall in.  So, he’s a project.  However, fantasy managers need to see the big picture, he could steal 20+ bases annually. 

8. Arol Vera (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B but needs to get stronger
  • Tools Summary: Projectable teenager who needs to get stronger.  He shows an idea at the plate with solid-average speed

Arol Vera is all about projection.  I talked to an evaluator who insists he’s going to hit with power.  However, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in math to see that he posted a .401 SLG last season and a .280 SLG in his time in Low-A.  He has gotten noticeably bigger and stronger since the Angels signed him in 2019.  He’s got solid speed and should be able to steal double-digit stolen bases annually.  Plus, he makes solid contact with a semblance of an approach.  So, there are skills that just need time to develop and if you’ve invested in him, patience is the operative word.

9. Brendon Davis (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B or Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing power-speed combination that broke out in 2021.  If he can maintain the approach he showed in 2021, he’s a big leaguer

Davis was originally drafted by the Angels, was sent to Rangers in the Yu Darvish deal before being acquired by the Angels in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.  So, not a lot was expected from him.  Then 2021 occurred.  Across High, Double, and Triple-A last year, he slashed .290/.361/.561 with 30 home runs and 16 stolen bases and in my mind, he’s very much a prospect.  What happened?  He got stronger and improved his approach while keeping his strikeout rate reasonable.  At 6-foot-4, he’s going to strike out a lot, but if he can keep his strikeout rate in the mid-20s with an average walk rate, he’ll be a Major Leaguer.

10. Kyle (Ky) Bush (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP with some upside
  • Tools Summary: Good size with a solid arsenal

The Angels grabbed lefty Ky Bush with their second-round pick last June after an impressive junior year in college where he struck out 112 while walking 19. In looking at his college career, he played at three different schools in three years.  That’s unusual, to say the least, and I will dig in over the offseason to see if there are any red flags.  He showed good velocity in his professional debut as well as a slider that missed plenty of bats.  With his size, he should be able to stay a starter with a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

11. Orlando Martinez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Above-average power with a little bit of speed.  Doesn’t control the strike zone well

Martinez was signed out of Cuba in 2017 and has been working his way through the minor leagues.  He doesn’t have any true carrying tool with above-average power and average speed.  He struck out more than you would like to see in Double-A (27%) with an aggressive approach.  He turns 24 in February with the ceiling of a fourth or fifth outfielder, or more likely an extra bat.

12. Jack Kochanowicz (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP but he’s raw with a long way to go
  • Tools Summary: He has the size and athleticism to be effective in the Major Leagues.  But, he’s raw with a long way to go

I had high hopes for Jack Kochanowicz at the start of the season as I had heard that he looked good last season at the Alt-site and Fall Instructs.  However, he was squared too much last season and wound up pitching to a 6.91 ERA over 18 starts.  At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he’s still growing into his body and working on building strength.  If you’re optimistic like I am, you think he adds more velo to all of his pitches and consequently, he’ll get more players out as he matures.  The delivery works, so eventually, I believe he’ll throw more strikes.  But, it’s all projection and at this point, Dynasty League owners need to see some evidence of improvement before rostering him.

13. Adrian Placencia (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B but has a LONG way to go
  • Tools Summary: He has a nice feel to hit with a little bit of speed but needs to get stronger

Adrian Placencia finally got on the field and while he only hit .175, he showed a solid approach with a great-looking swing that should allow him to hit long-term.  He did strike out 28% of the time, but I think this improves over time.  He does need to get stronger as is evident by his .225 BABIP.  However, he showed some loft in his swing but just lacks the power to produce enough exit velocity to hit for power yet.  He should start 2022 in Low-A. 

14. Alexander Ramirez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF but has a LONG way to go
  • Tools Summary: Loud tools including plus power, but his hit-tool is extremely raw

Alexander Ramirez was one of the Angels’ significant international signees in 2018 and has yet to see his big tools play.  He has plus raw power and showed that in the Complex League where he slugged .512 in 35 games.  He also struck out 33% of the time.  For some reason, the Angels promoted him to Low-A to finish the season and he didn’t hit at all (.083 BA) while striking out 42% of the time.  While the tools are sexy, he’s still very raw and has a long way to go.  Fortunately, he just turned 19 in late August and has time on his side.

15. Jorge Ruiz (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: He’s barely 17-years-old, but showed a great approach in his first exposure to professional baseball.  He’s also a plus runner

Jorge Ruiz was a January signee and celebrated his 17th birthday playing baseball in the DSL.  He more than held his own, walking nearly as much as struck out while showing plus speed.  He needs to get stronger but his ability to control the strike zone has my interest peaked.  He’s a long way off but a kid that Dynasty League owners need to get on their radar.

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